Saturday, 28 June 2014

Making the Most of Things

Sometimes life has a funny way of knocking you off course for a little while.  It can come in the form of a single, life stopping event, or in our case, it can sneak slowly up on you without you necessarily noticing. 

For the past 6 months or so, due to my husband’s work, we have had to compromise on lots of things.  Silly little things really, that alone can often go unnoticed, but once added together, and mounted up over time, they can become big things.

I have watched my beloved husband slowly buckle under increasing work pressure.  He could no longer regularly find time to read the girls’ their bedtime story, something which has always been part of the bedtime ritual.  He couldn’t sit and talk to me about how the day had gone, because there was work to be done.  The 5 day week slowly became a 6 day week.   Bedtime got later and later, and the alarm would get set a little earlier, so a few more minutes of work could be done. 

Surviving on less than 5 hours sleep a night did not a happy, healthy husband make, and eventually, it broke him.  It nearly broke me.  The final straw was when he crawled into bed at 3.30am one morning, with the alarm set to wake him barely 2 hours later.  I called time on it and forced his hand to take a break.  To take some time.  To rest a little.  To recuperate and regenerate, so he would actually still be with us in 6 months time!  A month with no work, no early mornings, no regimental routine, and, most important of all, no stress.

So what have we filled these past couple of weeks with?  Well, quite simply, living. 


Sleeping until gone 8am, and having a more carefree attitude to the girls’ normally strict bedtime.  Eating breakfast in our pyjamas.  Having dinner in front of the television, watching The Darling Buds of May.  Getting out and about.  Walking miles through the shadey forest.  Listening to the sound of the sea from the sun warmed shore.  Skimming stones and collecting pebbles.  Playing in the sand.  Dancing through the grasses at Dunwich, and having picnics in the summer sunshine.  Movie nights in, and trips out too.  Popcorn, ice-cream, BBQs, and spending time with supportive family and special friends.  All these things have helped put things back into perspective.

And while my Mr has been taking a break, I have too.  His working hours, and the pressure and worry associated with that, put me off my game more than a little.  I didn’t realise until everything suddenly stopped, just how much things had been getting to me.  I’ve put my needles down for now, and nothing has been knitted for over 2 weeks.  But I have found time to make some little things for the girls, who quite often get overlooked, from a making point of view.

A new dress for Miss M, made from Pirate fabric – so adorable – and a little felt horse for each of them, made from, unsurprisingly, a wartime pattern.

I haven’t left vintage hunting fall by the wayside.  I couldn’t, it’s one of the many things that make me happy, and so we have been out and about, collecting lots of beautiful frocks and accessories to bring to the fairs over the coming months. 


I may also have added a few vintage goodies to my own collection ;-)

4.5 yds 1940's crepe fabric, 1940's dress pattern and a new 1940's hat! :o)

We are halfway through our break, and have looked upon this unplanned month together as a gift.  It has given us an amazing, likely once in a lifetime, opportunity to take time out as a family, recharge our batteries a bit, and do the things so often taken for granted. 

I’m slowly, but surely, getting my husband back, claiming him once again as my own. Work has claimed far too much of him these past 6 months, and it gets you down.  We intend to very much make the most of the fact that for now, he’s ours, and only ours.

Normal service will resume shortly :o) xx

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

War on the Great Central Railway

Last weekend, we took a trip to the Great Central Railway for their wonderful wartime event. 

We love this railway, wartime event or not!  It boasts ?? miles of track, and they have an impressive collection of traction, of both the steam and diesel variety.  With my Mr being a bit of a train buff, his enthusiasm for traction and a well run railway station has rubbed off on my girlies and me!!

Anyhow, our home for this most enjoyable weekend was the general waiting room on Quorn and Woodhouse station. 

The space we have there is smaller than we are normally used to, so we aren’t able to take our full compliment of stock, but the space has so much character, that we don’t mind taking slightly less stuff with us.  A major plus point of being in the waiting room is that it is clean.  Coal dust and original ‘40s clothing don’t mix that well, so we are happy to have it all safely tucked inside, away from the smuts and smoke of the engines.  The room also gets locked at the end of the day, so we can head back to the hotel, knowing that all is safely under lock and key!

The station staff at Quorn are absolutely brilliant.  They were all helpful and friendly, and certainly made the weekend more enjoyable.  What I didn’t realise, until late on Sunday, was that the station staff are all volunteers, which makes the job they do even more commendable, especially when they were faced with numpties who seemed not to understand that standing on the edge of the platform, with a considerable tonnage of engine heading towards them, wasn’t the most sensible thing in the world to do!! ;o)

As to the event itself, it is brilliantly run, and clearly has a dedicated team behind it.  Every member of staff we met was nice, which sadly isn’t always the case at these events.  There was plenty for the public to see, with battles and parades, static vehicles and displays, including a Spitfire on the Sunday.  We felt that the re-enactors and traders were really well catered for, with great food outlets, good camping, and great facilities.  And what’s more, there was evening entertainment and a bar, to help wile away the evening. 

As is generally the case with such events, I tend not to get the chance to stray far from base, and this weekend was no exception, and I only made it into Quorn yard to have a look at what some of the other traders had on offer, as you do, so sadly my pictures aren’t the best.

There were lots of highs to the weekend.  For the most part, the sun shone, which always seems to lift spirits.  C got to dress up in her newly made dress.  We sold lots of lovely forties goodies (which is what we do it for, after all), and I got to spend some much needed time away with my family. 

Sadly, where there are ups, there are downs, and for some reason, we saw more than our fare share of idiots this weekend!  Now I know that some people won’t think I’m being overly kind here, but bear with me. 

There is no denying that the stuff we sell is expensive.  It is original wartime clothing that has stood the test of time and survived, in the most part unscathed, for 70+ years, and that carries with it a degree of value.  In a way we have never experienced before, we had people compare out stock to charity shop goods, and scoff at the prices of the jumpers which have taken me 50+ hours to knit.  In my opinion, ignorance is no excuse for blatant rudeness.

We also had the jokers of the pack who thought our clothing offered a great fancy dress opportunity, a chance to shove (yes, with force) decade’s old homburgs and bowlers onto the heads of sticky fingered children so they could pose for granddad to take a picture.  Ah, how sweet!  I don’t think so.

There was the lady who tried, and failed, to squeeze herself into a petite 11011 utility coat which resulted in torn lining, brilliant!  Then there was the person who thought one of our fur stoles was cute and cuddly, the perfect thing to play with, roughly, and promptly tore the skins apart.  It was all topped off rather nicely with the theft of a rather exquisite 1930’s carved bone necklace.  I’m hoping karma catches up with the light fingered foul fiend!  Oh, I get to meet some charming folk!!

To be fair, 95% of the people I meet are wonderful, truly.  They are respectful and gentle with the clothing, and understand that, in most cases, it is irreplaceable.  These customers are lovely, and are welcome back anytime! :o)

The perfect ending to the event was the poppy drop, where 1000’s of paper poppies are dropped from a plane and flutter serenely, if a little off target, to the ground. 

Although tired, and a little pinker for our time spent in the sun, we are already looking forward to June 6th and 7th 2015, when we can do it all again, if GCR will have us!! xx

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Little Vintage Lover Fair Visits The Control Tower, North Creake

Today was a good day; tiring, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Up early, and out of the door before anyone else in the row was awake, we popped across the border into Norfolk, for the Little Vintage Lover Fair being held at The Control Tower, North Creake.

North Creake airfield was built in 1943, and was the home to 199 and 171 RAF Squadrons.  The tower, and surrounding gardens, have been lovingly, and painstakingly, restored and turned into an amazing vegetarian B&B, and today was the grand opening. 

The attention to detail is simply divine, and the atmosphere was so welcoming.  The interior is filled with incredible art deco fixtures and fittings; the highlight for me was the red cut moquette 3 piece suite!  I didn’t get to see a great deal of the interior, and so didn't get that many photographs, but what I did see was just dreamy – I could so easily have stayed there! 

There was tea and cake in abundance, 1940’s songs echoing across the lawns, and glorious sunshine – a perfect way to spend a summer’s day!

The fair was held in a Nissen hut, which provided a rather fitting backdrop for our forties finery!  We got to catch up with lovely people, many of whom we haven’t seen since 2013.

I didn’t get any photographs of anyone else’s stalls, such is the coward that I am, but there were some beautiful things being offered for sale, including more knitting patterns from the ever lovely Diane.

If you fancy a unique stay in rural North Norfolk, I am certain that you will not be disappointed with The Control Tower.  You can see lots more photographs of the incredible transformation on The Control Tower Facebook page.

I’m now off to soak my feet; 8+ hours of standing, and they’re pretty darn sore! :o)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Bluebells in Spring Jumper - Free 1940's Knitting Pattern

Every now and again, we step outside the knitting comfort zone and attempt a pattern that is more intricate than our normal offerings. 

As soon as I bought this pattern, I knew it had to be attempted.

One of my favourite Spring flowers is the bluebell, so what better shade to choose for a jumper covered in said flowers than to opt for a springtime shade of blue?  Ordinarily, I’m not actually a fan of blue, and favour autumnal shades instead, oh, and green of course, you can’t beat a bit of green, especially that scrumptious 1930’s green!  :o)

Anyway, getting good 4 ply, which isn’t wool, in a shade other than your very basic colours, can prove troublesome, especially with blue, which is often offered up in baby blue, or dark navy, neither of which took my fancy.  However, good old Stylecraft came up trumps again, with a divine shade called aster. 

When knitting a complicated pattern, I always want the stitch detail to show up.  I mean, what is the point in spending so much time knitting in a colour which is so dark that you can’t see the intricacy of the pattern until you are 12” in front of it??

Aster proved to be the perfect shade, showing up the little clusters of bluebells perfectly.  And what’s more, it was incredibly economical to knit, using just 190g of wool, which works out at roughly £6.00 for the materials.  Not bad, hey?! 

The finished design is so pretty, a definite eye catcher, even from afar ;-)  The only slight downside is that it is a fairly open work design, so you would need to wear a little camisole underneath. 

For anyone wanting to give this pattern a go, you can print off a copy of the pattern for free by clicking HERE.

Although I wouldn’t want to put anyone off from having a go at this jumper, I think it’s only fair to say that it isn’t really for a beginner.  It is an intricate pattern, with a pattern repeat of some 36 rows, and really does take maximum concentration.  I wouldn’t be confident sizing this jumper up by adding stitches, but you could go up or down a needle size to give a bigger/smaller woolly.  You may also want to look at the neck opening.  I found that it came up really small, so I adapted the pattern slightly, and added a buttoned neck opening to the left shoulder instead.